terça-feira, 15 de maio de 2012

The game and the mind

By Vince

Do you like to reunite your friends for hours of intense battles in RISK? Do you find amusing dueling against a rival in MORTAL KOMBAT for Playstation 3? Or for you the real emotion comes from an intense POKER night?

When we think about these situations, a good question arises: why do we like to play games so much?

We can find some answers in the excellent book "Everything bad is good for you" from the author Steven Johnson.

Johnson is graduated in Semiotic at Brown University and in English Literacy by Columbia University. He is known to defend the full access of games, TV series, internet and social media to young audience. The author defends that these stuff has different intellectual and cognitive features, but is not inferior to activities like reading a book.

As Johnson says “the dirty little secret of gaming is how much time you spend not having fun. You may be frustrated; you may be confused and disoriented; you may be struck. When you put the game down and move back into the real world, you may find yourself mentally working through the problem you’ve been wrestling with, as though you were worrying a loose tooth. If this mindless escapism, it’s a strangely masochistic version. Who wants to escape to a world that irritates you 90 percent of the time?”. (page 26)

We are talking here about the game and the mind. We are talking about reward.

Where our brain wiring is concerned, the craving instinct triggers a desire to explore. The system says, in effect: “Can’t find the reward you were promised? Perhaps if you just look a little harder you’ll be in luck – it’s got to be around here somewhere.” (JOHNSON, page 35)

Why do we like to play games so much? Reward is one of the possible answers.


JOHNSON, Steven. Everything bad is good for you: why popular culture is making us smarter. London: Penguin Books, 2006.

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